Tag Archives: won

Review of The “Wonderful” Wizard of Futhermucking Oz, by Matt Youngmark

Through Goodreads, I won a copy of Matt Youngmark’The “Wonderful” Wizard of Futhermucking Oz.

Arabella Grimsbro is a 15-year-old girl with a mouth like a dock worker and an attitude to match. When she walks into Voyages Through Literature—a cheesy mall store promising virtual reality tours of public domain classics—the last thing she expects is to be whisked away to an actual, magical world.

To make things worse, this Oz is very different from the one she saw in a movie when she was little. Ferocious beasts with grizzly bear bodies and tiger heads? A town of creepy, porcelain dolls? The Tin Woodsman lying broken and battered at the bottom of a ditch? Arabella will need more than surliness and silver slippers to find the answers at the end of this rainbow—or even just survive the trip.

A quick diversion:
Before I get to the review, can I just show you the Editor’s Note, which pretty much gives me life?

I laughed so hard at that and it perfectly establishes the tone of the book. Anyhow, moving on to an actual review, the actual review, as it were.

First off, that cover is just awesome pretty. Half Peruvian, angry ‘Dorothy’ is fearsome and I love her.

Secondly, I appreciate the diversity in the few non-Oz characters available to the author. (The Oz characters are, you know, a scarecrow, a tin man, a lion, a dog, some witches, flying monkeys, munchkins, etc. So, you know, Youngmark was maybe a little tied down with them.)

Thirdly, this book is funny. Utterly ridiculous, of course, but purposefully so. It’s completely hammed up. I had a ball with it.

Having said all that, I am glad it isn’t any longer than it is. Because for all its humor, it is still the story of Dorothy in Oz, a completely known and predictable plot. It is at the end of the day a one trick pony and if it had been much longer the schtick wouldn’t have been enough to carry it and I’d have lost interest. As it is, it ended in time and I enjoyed it quite a lot.

What I’m drinking: Look I figured this was the sort of book that would pair well with alcohol. So, I’m drinking Seagrum’s gin and orange-mango juice. Yes, I do realize that is an odd mix, but it came down to what was available in the house and it was gin and tropical juice or that stuff on the right. Since I did actually want to remember reading the book, the Chinese fire water wasn’t really an option. As it is, you might notice almost every picture is a little off kilter. Sorry ’bout that.

Review of Coulrophobia & Fata Morgana, by Jacob M. Appel

I won a signed copy of Coulrophobia & Fata Morganaby Jacob M. Appel, through LIbraryThing.

Description from Goodreads:
In his ninth book and fifth collection of stories, Jacob M. Appel introduces readers to a a diplomats wife who attempts to seduce her chimney sweep through Norwegian lessons, a minister whose dead wife is romantically involved with Greta Garbo and a landlord menaced by a rent-delinquent mime.

This is a collection of short stories and I’m on record several times as stating that I’m not a big fan of short stories, because I rarely find them satisfying. But if I’m going to read them I prefer to get my hands on a collection like this one. It gives me more of a feeling for the author than a mere 20 page snippet alone. And I liked Appel’s writing. I found the stories thoughtful and meaningful, which in a lot of circumstances is my biggest complaint about shorts. I don’t feel the accomplish anything by their end. Not here, I ended this book happy to have read it and each story in it.

A man recently told me I don’t review short stories properly, inferring that I’m reading them incorrectly. And I suppose if you expect me to be able and/or willing to go on at length about this being an example of the X type of story or the Y narrative format, I’d have to reluctantly swallow my allegation of mansplaining and concede the point. But I rather read and review shorts based on the simple maxim that I must enjoy them, regardless or how or why. I enjoyed Appel’s stories. It doesn’t matter to me why. That is enough. I easily recommend this book to those looking for a collection of easily digestible short stories.

Review of 12 Hours of Daylight, by Tameka Mullins

I won a copy of Tameka Mullins12 Hours of Daylight through Goodreads:

He pops like nobody’s business… 

Jason’s got it all: beautiful women, fast cars and piles of cash. With a job that literally keeps him up all night, this Channing Tatum lookalike is living the X-rated Hollywood dream. Any twenty-two-year-old guy would jump at the chance to star in Jason’s life…except Jason. 

…when he’s not playing Pops in real life. 

All in one night, Jason became a father and lost the love of his life. Vickie, his chocolate princess, isn’t looking down from heaven with pride, though. What started as an unconventional way to pay the bills has devolved into an obsession and an escape from crippling guilt. 

Raising twins alone is a full-time job, but with no other options, Jason doesn’t have a lot of time to look for a way out. Yet it all comes crashing down one night when the sometimes dangerous, addictive world of porn collides with the pressures of fatherhood. As Jason’s dreams spin out of control, he’ll have to make some changes in his life or risk losing everything he’s already sold his body to hold onto. 

Awesome cover, interesting idea, but not well executed. I generally hate the dictum to show not tell. I think it’s overused as a critique. But there is no getting around the fact that stories that are predominantly written in ‘tell’ are harder to connect to. Sometimes there are enough other elements to overcome this, usually there isn’t. Here, in 12 Hours of Daylight, being a novella, there is almost nothing. Which means I never felt connected to Jason and we’re not given any other characters to even try getting to know. Even at the point where Jason needs advice, he calls in an old friend that the reader doesn’t know, who then basically disappears again.

All this combined with the stiff dialogue (names are used far too often) creates a story that feels like it’s being blandly recited, with Jason’s porn gigs functioning as an excuse for some menage type sex scenes that contribute little to the already thin plot, spicing things up. There is a minor upheaval and then everything miraculously fixes itself off-page and the reader is told about it after the fact.

All in all, I think this really could have been something special.  As is, it’s not bad.  I liked the inter-racial aspect of the relationships. I liked the narrative voice. But I think it needs a lot more to really catch a readers attention.

What I’m drinking: Regular old Bigelow Chinese Oolong Tea. It’s my go-to cuppa. But honestly, not long after I took that picture, I realized I was wasting a beautiful day and took myself outside to read in a lawn-chair with a ginormous bowl of buttered popcorn. Ahh, spring!